COVID scams are increasing during the holidays. Here’s how to protect yourself

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — The Federal Trade Commission reports more than $59 million in individual losses due to scams during the first half of 2020. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) tells the FOX31 Problem Solvers scammers prey on fear during the pandemic. Now, many are bolstering holiday schemes. 

Susan Medina of the CBI said current conditions enable scammers to target a wider range of victims. 

“At a moment in our history when people are working at home a great deal, when many packages are being delivered,” she said.

Medina emphasizes that crimes go well beyond porch pirating, usually including “phishing incidents where people are asked to click the link because the package isn’t being delivered.”

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said his office has issued several cease and desist letters to businesses marketing ineffective COVID-19 tests and so-called coronavirus remedies.

“Sometimes people are hoping for a cure or a romance during this time, so they’re more vulnerable to being scammed” said Weiser. 

Colorado State University tells the Problem Solvers crooks were so bold as to use the campus police phone number to try to trick students and employees into falling for a Bitcoin scheme, phony job offers, and fake COVID tests and vaccines.

International students may even be threatened to pay an amount of money or face fake deportation charges.

The university makes it clear that it “does not allow unsolicited job offers to be emailed to employees and students over university email.”

Law enforcement says the best way to fight back against scammers is to never provide personal banking information or Social Security numbers to unknown callers. Let unknown calls go to voicemail so you can check them out later with a reputable source. If approached by those offering “to good to be true” job offers, check out websites and get references on your own.

Medina adds that reporting scams is extremely important.

“When we know this is going on, we can provide that education piece to prevent victims in the first place,” she said.

Scams can be reported on the Colorado attorney general’s website.

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